Stress Awareness Month

 In Awareness Campaigns, Mental Health

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 and is sponsored by The Health Resource Network, which is a non-profit health education organisation.

What is the aim of Stress Awareness Month?

The aim of Stress Awareness Month is to educate people on everything to do with stress. This should encompass knowing the triggers for your stress, the effects it can have on your body and how best to battle forms of stress.

What is stress?

Stress is a common condition that many people will face at certain times in their life. Stress causes a chain reaction of changes in your body to attempt to deal with what the body perceives to be threats (fight or flight reaction). If the source of your stress clears up then so should your symptoms, but if you are constantly stressed, it can put a lot of pressure on your body.

The NHS suggest that stress can affect you emotionally, mentally, physically and also affect your behaviour. Stress can affect you emotionally with feelings of being overwhelmed, irritableness, increased anxiety and a lack of self-esteem. The mental problems stress can cause include worrying, reduced concentration and a reduced ability to make decisions. Stress can then cause physical problems including headaches, muscle tension, dizziness, problems sleeping, tiredness and a change in eating habits.

Stress can also increase the chances of someone participating in risky behaviours such as smoking or drinking more alcohol, snapping at people and avoiding certain people.

There is also evidence that suggests stress can affect heart health. The “Flight or Flight” response can affect a person’s heart rate and the size of the blood vessels. Therefore stress can have an effect on the work rate of the heart and the circulatory system. If the stress is chronic and is prolonged over a period of time, then this could cause problems, especially in patients already suffering from heart conditions.

Tips on how to best fight stress

The NHS suggest that the following 10 tips are good for helping to get rid of stress and make you calmer –

  1. Exercising can help clear your mind and stop your emotional symptoms.
  2. Take control of the situation and try and address the trigger of your stress.
  3. Talk to your friends and family about what is making you stressed.
  4. Setting aside time for yourself outside of work and your stresses.
  5. Setting yourself goals to build confidence that will help during times of stress.
  6. Avoid drinking too much alcohol or smoking more as a coping mechanism. This will be worse in the long run.
  7. Helping other people, such as volunteering at your local charity will often put your problems into perspective.
  8. Prioritise work that is more important, don’t try and get all your jobs done all at once.
  9. Being positive. It might sound simple but can be difficult during times of stress.
  10. Accept what you can’t change.

Facts about stress

The International Stress Management Association have collated a few statistics regarding stress in the UK –

  • “The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers.
  • The number of new cases was 224,000, an incidence rate of 690 per 100,000 workers.
  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case.
  • In 2015/16, stress accounted for 37% of all work-related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence.
  • The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support”

 

References

  1. http://stressawarenessmonth.com/
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/understanding-stress.aspx
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/reduce-stress.aspx
  4. http://isma.org.uk/about-stress/facts-about-stress
  5. https://www.ashtonshospitalpharmacy.com/national-heart-month-managing-stress/
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